Valtteri Bottas took a big step to silencing his critics by charging to a dominant victory in Sunday's Formula 1 season-opener in Australia, heading up a one-two finish for Mercedes ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

Following a winless 2018 that left him seeking personal improvements and changes over the winter break, Bottas made an almighty statement by crushing the field at Albert Park by more than 20 seconds en route to a victorious start to the new season.

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After qualifying second behind Hamilton on Saturday, Bottas managed to seize the lead on the run down to Turn 1 on the opening lap as he slipped up the inside of his Mercedes teammate, comfortably taking the position.

Bottas never looked at risk of losing the race from that point on, building a healthy buffer through his long opening stint before emerging from the pits over 10 seconds clear of Hamilton, with the gap swelling through the second half of the race.

Bottas managed ease to his first win since the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix by 20 seconds, going down as the largest victory margin of his F1 career to date. The Finn also picked up a bonus point for setting the fastest lap of the race.

Unable to keep up with his teammate, Hamilton was left to settle for second place after fending off Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who picked his way up to P3 in the team's first race with new power unit partner Honda. It marked Honda's first podium finish in F1 since the 2008 British Grand Prix.

Verstappen opted for a long first stint to get fresher tyres for the second half of the race, allowing him to close up and easily pass Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, whose pace dropped off dramatically in the closing stages.

Vettel had been running 12 seconds clear of Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc at one stage, but the pair were split by only one second at the chequered flag. More concerning for Ferrari was the 57-second gap to race winner Bottas, marking a difficult day for the team widely tipped as the favourite in Melbourne.

Kevin Magnussen topped the midfield fight for Haas in sixth place, but echoes of 2018 rang true for the team as Romain Grosjean was forced to retire midway through the race due to an issue fitting his front-left tyre, having been in contention for a strong points finish.

Nico Hulkenberg clinched seventh for Renault, fighting up from 11th on the grid, while Kimi Raikkonen made a points-scoring debut for Alfa Romeo as he took eighth place.

Lance Stroll managed to rise from 16th on the grid to finish an excellent ninth for Racing Point, having been one of a number of drivers to benefit from Antonio Giovinazzi's decision to run a first long stint that held a those who pitted earlier back.

Lando Norris and Sergio Perez had been in contention for points after the first stint, only for both to get bogged behind Giovinzazzi following their stops, allowing Stroll to get the undercut and move up to P9. Daniil Kvyat pulled a similar strategy to grab 10th upon his return to Toro Rosso, keeping Red Bull's Pierre Gasly at bay through the closing stages. Norris and Perez finished 12th and 13th respectively.

Alexander Albon took P14 on his first F1 start ahead of Giovinazzi in 15th, while George Russell and Robert Kubica finished 16th and 17th for Williams, two and three laps down respectively.

Daniel Ricciardo's rotten record in his home grand prix continued as he was forced to end his Renault debut early due to damage to his car. Ricciardo lost his front wing and sustained damage to his bargeboard mere seconds into the race after running over the grass, forcing him into an early stop. The Australian was one lap down on the leader after 18 laps, and was ultimately parked by Renault as a precaution just past half-distance.

Besides Ricciardo and Grosjean, Carlos Sainz Jr. was the only other retirement, being forced to park up early due to a power unit issue.

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